Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The constant fear that oppressors hold of losing their power is ungrounded when learning about the similarities, not differences, between people of opposite races. As my favorite author Jonathan Safran Foer puts it, "Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are." All in all, I think we should focus on becoming more human and embracing these similarities rather than segregating ourselves by race. I think being at Rhodes allows us a privilege, regardless of race, to use our education to win arguments about these things. The best way to change something is to refuse to be silenced about the topic, while at the same time, ignoring it only allows it to grow.
Unfortunately the class has wound down and most people will not read this, but I figured I would put it out there just in case anyone wanted to read it and/or ponder the multitude of issues it brings about. This article is from the Huffington Post and which serves like a blog outlet for scholars and theorists alike. In the article Eleanor Hinton Hoytt responds to a predominately white and male Georgia Republican Party and Georgia Right to Life Group that used race as a way to trick people into not supporting health care reform and/or right to choice with abortion.
What the group did is they labeled abortion as "black genocide" citing that black women have the highest percentage of abortions in the United States. Hinton Hoytt responds by critiquing this spin of the facts by pointing out that many factors go into these high rates such as lack of access to contraceptives and/or education because of a system that continues to oppress blacks. What shes points out is that despite the Georgia group trying to put on the guise that they are helping blacks, their policy will actually continue to hurt blacks by denying health care to people who need it the most, including the highest percentage of uninsured individuals in America, which is black women.
If you read through the comments to this article you may find yourself really angry. There are some pretty ignorant people who blame this situation on black women, but we all know that it is structural and institutional forces that have continued this oppression.
Basically I am making this post just to show some more info on the subject, I wish we had time to discuss this though because I see potential for a wide range of analysis.
When I think about this semester, I know that we have learned and experienced a lot, but what's crazy is that through this experience I have been exposed to more, and I realized that we have only skimmed the surface despite the extensive progress we have made. This speaks to the complexity of this issue. It's exciting to make a little headway, but its is also daunting to know what still lies ahead for us in terms of changing this whole thing (assuming that we can). I guess the best thing I can say is that I hope we all can remain optimistic and hopefully that we can continue to correct this error in the conception of race. We can see all the different areas of life that have been affected by this error, and we can work to make changes to each of these areas, and eventually hopefully rid our world of the negative aspects of this error.
Anyway, keep of trucking. To you graduating folk: good luck with your future endeavors. To you non-graduating folk: see you around, hope finals are going well. To all: hopefully 2012 doesn't bring a zombie apocalypse, but if it does, hopefully we can transcend race and hatred (at least towards living humans) during that time.
Since the announcement of Osama's death, I have been interested in the how this will play out racially in the United States. Will there be a heightened sense of fear and racism amongst Arabs and the article I just posted just shows that everything that we have talked about in this class needs to be discussed on a larger level. Our society needs to be educated about race and racism. I am astonished by this article and its continuation of the black and white divide. Osama's death is not a win for black america. When will our society learn. And how can we progress when everything goes back to something that is not really real, race? Just a thought.
I want to challenge everyone in the class to not just take everything that we have read, discussed, and blogged about since January and forget it. I challenge everyone to take a stand and make a promise to continue to fight the little racist that has been planted inside of us because of society, experience, or what ever the reason may be. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Now that I will be graduating, I think this class was the most appropriate class to take before I left Rhodes because it actually allowed me to participate in a rigorous thought process about myself and others. I wish everyone success in their future endeavors. Be Blessed.
I think my favorite essay was part one of Charles Mills' book. I enjoyed his explanation of white vs. black philosophies. The thing I will never forget is the part where he explains that those who are less oppressed have the freedom to question their existence while those who are oppressed feel the weight of their existence every day. I always thought that questioning one's existence was a hard thing to do, but I now realize that it is a luxury to disconnect yourself from this world.
I hope that I can share the things I learned in this class with other people. I am still confused on some things, and I hope to clarify my questions in my years at Rhodes. I hope that I will be strong enough to personally combat racism.
I was really intimidated the first couple of weeks in the class, but everyone was really nice and I learned a lot from the other people in the class. I have never taken a class like this one, but I really enjoyed the honest atmosphere.
I wish everyone the best in whatever they choose to do. Thanks for a good class.
Still, many African Americans remain in poverty, a situation very difficult to overcome no matter how hard one works. Instead of sympathy, these people often elicit negative racial stereotypes—welfare checks, laziness, and poor education. These traits do not characterize a race; they are signs of poverty and hopelessness. Though free in theory, these people are materially oppressed and are forced to work lousy jobs for low pay because these are the only openings available to them. As soon as I figure out how to upload it, I will post the documentary Ryley Erhardt and I shot. In it we interview a variety of characters, from street people, to restaurant personnel, to public safety officers. Talking to them made me realize that race still plays a large role in Memphis. I was also amazed to see how different people’s lives can be. In our documentary, a lawyer says that there is a difference between the real homeless and people who just panhandle. There may be some cases in which a panhandler could be doing something more productive with his life, but it is my opinion that if he knew an honest way to make a substantially greater amount of money, he would do it. For many of these people, they do not have the option to help themselves.
Its been a really great semester and I have learned a ton. Thanks everyone, and have a great summer and life!
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for contributing to such an open and ongoing discussion about race. Race is not an easy topic to discuss; although race is not biologically “real,” people still seem view both themselves and others as “raced.” The existing friction between these two mindsets can easily become the white elephant in the room. However, there was no white elephant in our classroom this semester. Rather, we tackled such difficult questions by sharing our personal beliefs and opinions. Even when disagreements arose, I never felt as though I, or someone else, was being personally attacked. As Kimberly noted, our ability to incorporate a sense of humor in our discussion was most inspiring. It was this sense of humor that made me look forward to class each day.
Furthermore, and perhaps not surprisingly, this course was one of the most diverse classes that I have been a part of at Rhodes, in regards to both race and opinion. Although Rhodes prides itself on being an open-minded campus, it is difficult to provoke friendly debate when people are, more often than not, same-minded. Again, I’m grateful that we embraced, rather than ignored, such differences. This course will impact my perceptions and interactions with others well after graduation in a positive way, so, thank you!
Anyway, I was thinking about what I learned and the most important thing to take away from this class were and I considered my stance of elimitivism (again). I don't see elminativism and conservatism as so diametric anymore. For the most part, I think conservationists agree with eliminativists on the fact that race does not exist scientifically, but what that entails is where they differ. One argues that the concept of race is still useful, and the other argues that since it has no basis in science, we should throw out the whole idea. Obviously these two ideological camps have implications for political change, but I think they agree on the most important problem facing the US. They both agree that it should be taught in schools that there is no scientific basis for race. This to me it the idea that has the most potential to change the racial situation in America.
If we begin to teach children at an early age that there is no scientific basis for race (obviously in terms best suited for young minds), then their prejudices they develop over their adolescence can be minimized and hopefully even eliminated. Certainly, there will be those who are indoctrinated by their surroundings to believe that race exists and therefore racism is okay, but at least those individuals will have the ability to choose between the two ideologies. I believe there exists in every human a compassion for other humans, and if this it true the net gain for educating our children on race will be a positive one.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this class, especially our class discussions. It was really eye opening to hear how differently we all think about race. While we might be quick to say that Rhodes is its own bubble etc. we still have different opinions and feelings about topics like race; we can’t all be grouped together as Rhodes students for any other reason than we go to the college. This relates back to the point that we reiterated throughout class that there is not a characteristic of a race that applies to every member of that race. Assuming that all Rhodes students feel the same about something is like assuming that all members of a race feel same, which we know is not true. Race is something that we don’t get the opportunity to talk about outside of close company and such so being able to hear perspectives from students we wouldn’t usually interact with.
At the beginning of this course I thought races were real things, but as the semester went on, I found myself straying more and more from that belief. I totally identify with Appiah in his assertion that nothing can do for us everything we ask the term race to do. Since race has been a force in our lives since we can remember we take it for granted that it is a real thing. My time in this course, however, showed me that race is something people have created and we don’t have to continue employing it. There is no “us” and “they” but rather we are all people together. We have our various similarities and differences but they are not the result of our supposed race. I don’t identify nor agree with every white person I meet; why wouldn’t it be the same for individuals from other races?
At this point I believe not only that race is not an objectively real thing, but we must eliminate it so as to save ourselves from the faults caused by that concept. I believe now the problem is not so much one of non-white disadvantage, but of white privilege. Whiteness has become the norm of society and anything else is a deviation. It is not enough to simply do away with race; instead we must restructure society so that race is no longer an essential component. While non-whites have struggled and put true effort into erasing racial injustice, whites have remained passive, denying racism yet not working towards its elimination. Its time for whites to become active in the effort to overcome racism so that we can all unite as humans to protect each other’s interests, thereby protecting our own.
I also appreciate the fact that, as a class, we could discuss race with altercations considering that race is a very touchy subject for all in some aspect. It shows the level of maturity that the class has provided in shaping our ideas about race. Although one race may not relate or agree with another, that does not mean that there is no level of understanding. And that is what I think I have gained more from this class, is not necessarily sympathy, but a deeper level of understanding for different races and the skills needed to approach different race in real life experiences.
The past semester with you all has been an interesting one. I enjoyed hearing your separate perspectives on the issues that we've encountered in class. The discussions were never dull. I found myself considering race from a variety of angles when it previously had never occurred to me to do so.
To elaborate on my response to Mae's post, I feel that students do take courses like this one that focus on social issues simply to talk about these issues. That was what I expected prior to taking this course. I did not expect that I would feel motivated past speaking on such issues, into doing something about them. I had previously never considered race past the idea of its being a social construct, as a construct that could be deconstructed. I still have a certain amount of skepticism as to the complete elimination of race. However, it does seem more possible somehow after taking this course and gaining a broader understanding of the topic as a whole. I believe that it was of much value to me to have taken this course because I have become more aware of the various facets of the racial issues that are embedded within our society. Some of the examples that were presented in class as white privilege never arose in my mind as injustices that should be combated. It is interesting how race has evolved and I appreciated being able to touch on such topics in class.
Overall I believe that I have been properly equipped to think about race critically and I was pleased with the results of this course. I am glad that I gained more out of this course than just an overview of the history of racial issues in America. I truly enjoyed the fact that we were able to think deeply about different concepts in class and to work together to develop solutions to problems in our society. It is commendable that no one felt the need to accept defeat when considering the nature and immensity of the problem at hand. I appreciated that there was always a willingness to come up with solutions and to share ideas. It was very refreshing. But thank you all for your contributions to this experience. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I recently attended a lecture by Dr. Mark Hatzenbuehler, a clinical psychologist who researches how social structures affect the mental health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations. The body of his research reveals that a higher percentage of homosexuals have been diagnosed with mental health disorders compared to heterosexuals, especially in regions where same sex marriage is banned. Given these statistics, Hatzenbuehler suggests that structural discrimination motivates LGB people to adopt psychological mechanisms that combat the negative stigma attached to their sexual orientation. Such mechanisms are often the precursor to mental health disorders. Furthermore, Hatzenbuehler has found that suicide rates are higher for both heterosexuals and homosexuals in states where LGB populations are structurally discriminated against, determined by a host of criteria. Consequently, Hatzenbuehler is a proponent for community-based interventions that promote acceptance and tolerance for LGB populations.
I believe Hatzenbuehler's research could be extended to several minority populations. Although mental health disorders were not as widely studied before the civil rights movement, it would be interesting to see if structural discrimination, such as segregation, had similar effects on the mental health of racial minorities. Regardless of how far we have come, I do not doubt for a second that similar results would exist even today. As we have discussed in class, our society places normative value on being both white and heterosexual. If one does not identify with either of these groups, how does it impact their health and wellbeing? Evidently, discrimination influences people both externally and internally. Hatzenbuehler’s overwhelming evidence is frightening. I do not think people realize the dramatic consequences of such public prejudice and discrimination, such as banning same sex marriages or depicting black crime on news channels.
If you're interested in reading more about Hatzenbuehler’s research, here is a link to one of his articles:
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Throughout the semester, we have discussed how racism is deeply entrenched in our society. Although not everyone is the “frothing at the mouth” type racist, people implicitly react to others who have a different skin color. In my social psychology course, we had a guest speaker who discussed white privilege; according to him, an individual’s amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates emotions, shows increased activation within the first 20 milliseconds of interacting with a black person. However, this effect is not demonstrated when one interacts with a white person. Although the participants in this study were not seemingly racist, we are products of our society; “racism produces racists that reproduce the racism that produced them.”
Although we are now aware of this viscous cycle, the question remains, how do we break away from it? In class, we discussed that education, beginning in elementary and middle school years, is key in confronting racism. However, this must be done on a societal level rather than an individual level. Perhaps the government should mandate a nation wide curriculum that educates students on racism, including the consequences of both oppression and privilege. However, is education enough? If behavior predicts attitude more than attitude predicts behavior, then education alone is too shallow of a solution.
Again, according to social psychologists, the contact hypothesis predicts that increased contact with people who are perceived as being different will lead to more information about them and, consequently, less rigid stereotypes. However, this hypothesis will only reduce prejudice under five conditions:
1) Mutual interdependence and a common goal
2) Equal status
3) Informal setting where in-group members and out-group members interact directly
4) Repeated exposure with many members of the out-group
5) Social norms that promote equality
Is there a way to incorporate these conditions in school-systems? Even at Rhodes College, an institution that offers courses such as philosophy of race, there is very little interaction between white and black students. Since the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, schools have been desegregated for nearly sixty years. However, the consequences of segregation are still lingering. The contact hypothesis makes me believe that school systems across the United States should strive for greater diversity and greater interaction between students of different color. Although I understand that this is easier said than done, I do believe that this hypothesis, along with its conditions, demonstrate that education should not stand alone against racism.
Friday, April 22, 2011
In thinking about our recent discussion on black disadvantage and white privilege, I am reminded of the debate that occurred during the civil rights struggle of the ‘60s and ‘70s regarding integration vs. separatism/black nationalism. In the ‘50s and early ‘60s the mainstream sentiment of the civil rights struggle was that integration of the races was the ultimate goal of black Americans. The idea, essentially, was that blacks were denied many of their basic rights as American citizens but that this could be rectified if both races were at the same level. As we have discussed in class, however, whiteness is the norm in America; thus, as the ideology and rhetoric of many black Americans began to reflect in the early ‘60s, the unspoken implication of integration was that blacks needed to be brought into the fold of white America. In other words, integration of the races was really assimilation of blacks into white culture and society, something which Dubois had criticized decades earlier.
Therefore, black leaders such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael argued against integration by way of assimilation and in favor of the development of a strong black self-identity and real black political power – ideas that were combined in Carmichael’s introduction of the phrase Black Power in 1966. Basically, Black Power activists maintained that white society was, in many ways, corrupt and wholly undesirable as an end for black liberation. Carmichael argued in his 1967 book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, that real integration of the races could only be achieved if whites focused on fixing the many ills of their society.
Comparing this history to our discussion of black disadvantage and white privilege, I see the focus on black disadvantage at the exclusion of white privilege to be akin to the philosophy of integration through assimilation. It reflects the belief that if whites could only accept blacks into mainstream society and stop actively oppressing them, then racism would be a thing of the past. Clearly, this does not reflect the entire picture. As we discussed, racism in America is also maintained by the “invisible” system of white privileges. White Americans must come to terms with their privilege if the myriad problems of racism in our country are ever to be overcome. In other words, whites must recognize and address what is corrupt and sick in mainstream American society if the races are ever to be truly equal.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Last semester, I took Counseling Psychology. One of the first topics we examined was White Privilege. As a class assignment, we were asked to go to a nearby pharmacy and find greeting cards, magazines, bandages, make-up, and stockings for an African American woman. The experience was eye opening to say the least. I had gone to the same Walgreens that I have shopping at since freshman year, yet I had never noticed the lack of variety and price discrepancy for African-American products. I discovered that Hallmark offers a line of greeting cards, called “Mahogany,” that is specifically intended for African Americans; however, this section was noticeably smaller and distinct from the adjacent aisle of greeting cards. Moreover, I could only find two magazines for African Americans out of the plethora that were offered. The task of finding such magazines was difficult considering both were on the bottom shelf. The bandages, stockings, and make-up for African Americans were more expensive than the products offered for Caucasians. For example, Covergirl sold dark foundation shades for $10.79, while the light foundation shades were $8.79.
Considering the Memphis population is approximately 60% African American and 30% Caucasian, I was stunned at the limited selection of African American products. In addition, each African American product was labeled in reference to skin color, such as “Brown Sugar” or “Mahogany.” Such distinction from other products perpetuates the normative value of being White in our society. In addition, it is unjust that African Americans pay more for products simply because of their skin tone.
After reading the article on White Privilege, I was particularly struck when the author wrote, “whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow ‘them’ to be more like ‘us’” (McIntosh, 1). However, allowing “them” to be more like “us” seems like an impossible endeavor; the difficulty about white privilege is that it is often unrecognized. Thus, people will not be able to afford such privilege to minority groups. On the other hand, denying white privilege seems to mimic the “colonizer who refuses” dilemma; is it possible to escape white privilege in our society?
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
When graduating from high school many African Americans are faced with the decision of attending a historically black college or a predominantly white institution. When considering which route would best suite them many factors come into play. Who would I feel most comfortable around? Which route will better accompany my future success? Which schools have the better reputation? Which school would I qualify for the most money? These questions all bog the minds of African American high students all over the United States when considering colleges. Relativity to culture is a serious factor that contributes to the answers to these questions. As a senior at a predominantly white institution, I can personally say that attending a historically black college may have had a more positive impact on my growth as a college student: academically and socially.
As a sociology major, I am very interested in the cultural aspects of any environment or atmosphere. The dynamics of a college campus seemed to be key in determining the major contributors to students of color’s success in college. There is always a constant negotiating of identity and success in the African American community. The constant negotiating varies according to gender and class within the African American community. As an African American student in college, many times I question how my academic success can be impacted from other factors aside from my capabilities. I felt as if this would be an interesting topic to research by looking into academic success in historically black colleges, compared to private white institutions. Rather we all accept it or not, our environments have a tremendous impact on the way we perform or go about things. While many African American students are now present in higher education, the numbers have fluctuated tremendously over decades. While there was once a sense of urgency in the African American community to attend college, that urgency has sort of come to a halt. Due to the social positions of African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, when offered the opportunity to attend college many African American ceased that opportunity and took great advantage of it.
Over the weekend , I got a great opportunity to conduct interviews for my senior project on Tennessee State University's campus (a historically black college). I also had an opportunity to visit Fisk University while I was in Nashville. All the students at these schools said that the thing they liked most about their school is the shared sense of community and support by faculty, staff, and the student body. This was very interesting to me and it even made me question my views on this ohhh sooo great school "RHOOOODDEESS COLLEGGE". I 'll leave it at that. Comments......
Friday, April 8, 2011
This short article from yesterday’s New York Times outlines our country’s changing racial demographics. According to data gathered by the Brookings Institution, white children, who are currently the majority, will be a minority by 2019. This is even earlier than the 2023 date that was predicted by the U.S. Census Bureau. Even more striking is the statistic that the median age for whites is 41, while the median age for Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic, is 27. This means that not only are whites going to be a minority population in the U.S. by 2041, but they are also going to be an old population. Of course, this poses a number of interesting questions regarding race relations in America.
To begin with, is it likely that racism, or perhaps more pertinently white privilege, will decrease along with the white population? Both racism and white privilege seem to be grounded largely in the outdated belief that to be truly American is to be white. Of course, even today this is an absurd notion but it is still reflected prevalently in our societal norms. It seems possible to me that as whites become more and more of a minority, the unwarranted nature of white privilege will become increasingly harder for whites to ignore. Granted, this does not necessarily mean that whites will give up their privilege. As we saw during the Civil Rights struggle in the ‘50s and ‘60s, for instance, whites often react violently when their privilege is challenged. There is probably little coincidence that there has been an upsurge of racial antagonism against Hispanics over the past few decades – numerically, they are the largest challengers to white privilege…
It is also important for us to consider whether or not institutional racism will change along with the changing demographics. By this, I refer largely to the de facto segregation that exists in cities throughout our nation. As whites have decreased in their majority status over the years our cities have become more, not less, segregated. Take a look at this article for more information on this topic:
Not a single one of these cities is in the South! This does not bode well for our nations racial future. It seems that even though whites are a shrinking portion of the population, we still persist in separating ourselves from other races. If this trend continues it seems that there will be a growing inconsistency between the size of the white population and the wealth and power that it holds.
These are just two of the major issues to consider. What do you guys think? What are some other issues to think about and what are some further implications of the two that I brought up?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Yet it’s baffling how peoples acting on the same impulse to live piously in the Lord’s eye can come to such strife amongst each other based on religious differences seemingly so irrelevant to the ultimate objectives of their faith. It seems strange to me now just how upset my family would get if I became Muslim. And Islam requires much devotion. I am amazed at how such an insignificant tag can ostracize communities and peoples to the extent that it does.
Even stripped of all socially constructed identity, humans are not created equal (except in the most basic sense of humanity). I try to image peoples of various ethnicities striped of all social connotations, and still my tendency is to group similar appearances together. Race is purely physical, religion purely spiritual. Race is easier to physically observe, religion is easier (in theory) to change. When socializing with new acquaintances, we tend to first seek out individuals similar to ourselves. Religion is always a haphazard topic in conversation because it has the potential to raise controversies. Individuals become divided based on what they believe and who agrees with them. It is all too common in America for a Christian to disdain an Arab because he thinks he is a Muslim, only to find out he is also a Christian—at which time he is instead received as a worthy brother in Christ. And it also all too common for such a Christian to take for granted the Christianity of a fellow white person, who may well indeed be atheist or Muslim.
It could be said the white person, then, has the religious and well as the racial advantage. In being white, his racial identity is absent, it is the norm. Likewise, it is assumed that his religious ideals are in the norm, at least more so than non-Caucasians. Do people agree? Is it the case that Christianity in America also favors whites? Whites are more often assumed Christian? And this assumption serves to unconsciously unify white people and further ostracize individuals already different in appearance?
Saturday, April 2, 2011
As I sit in the Atlanta airport, once of the most diverse places in the world at any given time, I can’t help but wonder what those who sit around me think about me. If anything at all. What stereotypes do I meet? What stereotypes do I defy? Do I even meet any stereotypes? The thoughts that go through a minority in a majority world. I wish I could say that my fears were unjustified, but recent experiences have taught me otherwise. One of my good friends, who shall remain nameless, experienced what I would call a modern-day form of Negrophobia. For those who don’t know what Negrophobia is: it’s the fear of the figure of a Black person and the Black culture as a whole. Regardless of what type of person I am, someone who has Negrophobia will fear me before I even open my mouth or get a chance to defend myself. People latch onto the stereotypes that are perpetuated by the media and just plain ignorance.
One thing that seems to strike fear into the heart of white, middle class parents, are the words: “Mom…Dad…I’m dating a Black guy”. A lot of parents automatically assume the worse, that their daughter is dating one of the guys that they see on the nightly news, or in rap videos, or roaming the streets with their pants down below their ankles. The list goes on and on. Clearly, this is not the case with a fairly large group of Black men, but due to these standing stereotypes, people go with what they hear and no necessarily what they know. Negrophobia. In it’s most modern form. So Black men who don’t fit that stereotype are forced to fight an uphill battle.
One of my good friends asked me one day if I blame those Black guys who help promote the stereotypes and truth be told, I do lay some of the blame on them. I often find myself thinking, “if we didn’t *insert negative Black stereotype here*, then we wouldn’t have nearly as many racial problems as we do”. But the acts of a select few should not condemn the entire group. Just because the guy over there carjacked someone and he looks like me, doesn’t mean that I am going to do the same thing. In today’s society, one that we like to label as progressive, people are still narrow-minded enough to stereotype almost everyone they meet. And to think I used to assume that Negrophobia was an outdated term.
How is race like religion? Well, this thought occurred to me when we were constantly saying that race has no basis in nature. Since race as we know it has no basis in nature, then we know it is not anything on which we can base our assumptions. Race is simply a social construct. Of course, this social construct has an impact on our lives and society because people ignorantly think that there is such a thing as race in nature. They base their assumptions on what they think is a fact in nature. The many racial stereotypes are based on genetics, for they claim that all persons of a race have inherited some trait such as laziness, stupidity, or ignorance. These claims have no basis in genetics or nature, of course, so we disclaim them on those grounds alone. We can find nothing in the genetic make-up of races that accounts for our differences.
So why do we insist on this point so fervently, while holding on to religion? There is absolutely no base for religion in science, yet people still cling to religion. Just as is the case with race, we can find zero evidence for religion in nature. Therefore, we should not believe in it. It is a silly leftover from past ages that were less informed about the nature of the world. It functioned primarily as a tool of power by those who were evil enough to exert it over others. Does this sound familiar? Just as people used race as some unfounded "scientific" fact to treat others like dirt, they also used religion to deny basic human rights to others who they deemed inferior simply on the basis that they were different.
I hope that in this post I have made one point clear: religion and race have the same unfounded basis, and that if you are to make the claim that there is no anthropological basis for race, then you are required to make the same claim for religion.
Earlier this week while commenting on the post “‘Nigger’ Versus ‘Nigga’: The Contextual Framework of a Historical Term,” I found myself struggling to find understanding because of realization of my own limitations due to my positioning. What I realized was that although I knew the use of this word was bad and disagreed with its use completely, I could never know the true gravity of its use. The reason for this is embedded in the fact that as a white male, I have had the privilege of belonging the most generic category that in larger terms has always been recognized as the norm. But where does the strong tug inside me come even when I try to type “the n-word” that keeps me from even spelling it out on paper?
I began thinking about this and one solution I thought of was that it a result of my own socialization to be a racially sensitive white male. What this means is that I had been told by my parents and those around me that the use of this word was unacceptable before I really had even learned the word. The word never had a chance to become a part of my vocabulary because it was introduced to me maybe in a book or on TV in which case the medium was either educational (even covertly) as to the negative aspects of the word or if it was used negatively my parents told me not to use the word. These lessons or instructions may have been accompanied with a story of someone else’s struggle with the use of the word, but more likely a broad stroke in regards to the negative connotation historically of the word.
Regardless of how my socialization occurred, the way that I feel that this lesson was internalized was in an “inner-directed” manner, which means that when I interact in my world today, I do not even consider the use of this word due to a tug at my inner morality. Like I said, I could not even bring my self to spell out the word in my first post and even in this one I justified my use of the “n-word” in the first sentence because it is quoted as a title. One thing I would like to point out here before I precede with my question is that I am not trying to come across like I am on a high horse by any means through my lack of use of this word. Instead, I am questioning this inner drive and examining it because in reality, I cannot ever fully comprehend why “the n-word” is so bad. I have never been the subject of the racism that follows the use of the negative use of the word, and on the contrary, it has never been socially acceptable for me to use the word in a lighter manner like I have heard it used. My only personal interaction with the word where it was said to me was by a black co-worker of mine at a restaurant who called everyone on the staff (white or black, including myself) by the "n-word" in the same way that I would use the word "bro" or "man." This did not bother me but rather left me very confused. He told me it was no big deal and not to worry about it, just never say it back. I kind of just accepted what he said as authority on the subject because he controlled the situation as the producer of language and its meaning in our interaction, and also since he was black, there was kind of an understanding that the white workers just had to take his word for it. I mean, who were we to correct him? Do I take his word for it? Do explain to him why I don't think it's okay to use even from him to other blacks and risk backlash from him as he questions who I think I am speaking out of place?
My positioning as a white male leaves me with the job to simply not use the word. I just simply know that its use is bad, but I wonder if my lack of understanding boxes me in so my only response is just to not use it. Would it be that bad if I were to type it out here in an academic context? As a white male all I know is that I am not supposed to use it, and out of a latent fear of being racist I feel like I refrain from using it and even feel uncomfortable making this post. That being said: please work with me here on this. I do not know if I completely make sense, but I am trying to put this feeling out there and just flush out some ideas to see if anyone, regardless of their own positioning, color, or sex can see where I am coming from or provide their own insight on this. Through this post I would like to help with my own/your own understanding of the use of this word and to a larger theme this idea of inner-directed action or this “moral tug” as we try to discuss our own experience with this word or this feeling (regardless of the context).
Friday, April 1, 2011
In another class we are discussing the way that the body is not just a physical thing but is a cultural, societal creation that is ever changing and pressured. We were discussing such things as barbies, models, commercials, and more. It was interesting not only to think about this from the point of view of men and women but also from the view of different races. For instance, Barbies were made in different races but white barbies are much more readily available than any other; while black barbies are more available than asian or hispanic barbies are. Similar ideas can be seen in the industry of modeling for a very long time, and even now certain ideas or styles are identified with center races. The classic beauty, a white female, the exotic beauty, a black female, the porcelain beauty, an asian women, and more..
So how do we disband these cultural ideas and societal norms to create a more equal and all encompassing idea of beauty? Is there a way? What are your thoughts on the social constructs and cultural norms that drive our society and the interaction and beliefs we have?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I’m not really sure who’s supposed to be blogging this week, so I thought I’d just go ahead and write one. Hopefully Rhodes wireless will work long enough for me to post this…
I’d like to focus on Mill’s assertion that what America, and indeed the rest of the world, really needs is a conception of race as “both real and unreal”(xiv). Considered in the midst of the conservationist/eliminativist debate, Mills call for a compromise of sorts is certainly a breath of fresh air. I myself have been vacillating between the two camps regularly over the past month or so, and I like to think that this isn’t because I’m indecisive or impressionable (probably true anyway), but rather because both sides have legitimately good points. There is no need to enumerate them – this is essentially what we’ve been doing since we read Du Bois – but suffice it to say that Mills’ compromise seems to me to encapsulate the best of both sides. It provides us with a conceptual vehicle through which we can frame the extensive social, political, and economic problems that still exist around race in America. If we are going to fully address problems such as the increased high school drop-out rate of minority children while still working to eliminate the basis for racism in our society we must be able to treat race in the dualistic way that Mills suggests.
On a related note, as important as it is for philosophers of race, anthropologists, sociologists, etc. to adopt this dualistic conception, it is even more vital that the average American see race in this way too. Thus, it seems absolutely necessary for us to begin honest and serious education on the subject of race in our schools. We need to present this conception of race to our children as early as possible, and hopefully before other social forces can give them a skewed notion of race. As a social construction, race is what society defines it to be. If we can form a critical mass of Americans who approach race squarely as Mills does, it seems unlikely that we will not be able to effect serious positive change.
What do you guys think about this? I’m especially interested to learn what you think about incorporating race into American public education. For instance, it seems to me that we should incorporate race into education as early as kindergarten, but I could see how one might argue that this is too early.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
The manner in which Fanon describes issues of maintaining an individual’s right to “freedom” reminded me of Hegel’s views of individuals as “freedoms”. Hegel’s view of freedom was fairly different from Fanon’s idea of it, however because Hegel believed that we should not enslave others, but if we were to stop, then we must stop gradually because African Americans are a very child-like freedom. It would be too hard on them if we were to abruptly gift them with the full extent of the freedom possessed by Europeans because this sudden onslaught would overwhelm them. This is far removed from Fanon’s view of freedom because he believed that every person exists as a freedom until someone else interrupts the course of that free existence. Hegel seemed to hold that certain groups were significantly more free than others. He also asserted that the struggle for individuals to prove that they are free does not end until they’re able to have the other freedoms recognize their freedom. This means that the state of your freedom is contingent on the views of those around you as in Fanon’s idea of freedom where the freedom of blacks is constantly interrupted by the views of the dominant racial class.
Race and racism are social constructs that are contingent on the support of society. They require collective agreement, acceptance and imposition to thrive and remain a threat to the "freedom" of the inferior racial classes. These human inventions have the ability to break down the healthy self-image of an individual and can manage to turn an individual who previously existed as a freedom into an object to be studied and prodded for faults. Racism is engrained in the minds of people, as well as in the structure of society and racial essentialism has the power to perpetuate it whether or not the application of the essential characteristics was meant to uplift the race or not.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I found this article rather interesting for the obvious reasons. While whites have the right to speak out for their own communities, I want to know what "interests" they are fighting for, considering the fact that despite the economic situation of the united states, whites are still the privileged group. I also want to point out that while reading, at first I thought that the article was covering the white race as a whole, only to now be led to think that this is simply the voice of the white male, trying to speak for his community as a whole. The article says,
Those white interests have been compromised by what he sees as the "preferential treatment" blacks have received in the job market to compensate for slavery, Edwards says.
I truly believe that they are simply in panic about the recession because it may be possible that they don't get to enjoy the luxuries that they once could before the recession began to greatly impact U.S. Citizens and now races who were once in a hole even before the recession are being complained about for being in the situation that they are in. There is no preferential treatment for the black race. When one looks at the situation, white males are still the privileged group. The job market has not been a major problem for white men until the recession and now it's all of a sudden a problem when it directly affects them. What about when blacks are being discriminated against for the same problem issue. It simply a race coming into terms with the reality of America, "We went from being a privileged group to all of a sudden becoming whites, the new victims," says Charles Gallagher. (I find it interesting in that last quote though that he differentiates between white and the privileged group)
What I would also like to know is what would white studies, white history entail? Would it teach the group about how they have oppressed, suppressed, taken, and claimed their own, basically bullied other ethnic groups in order to become the superior race that they are? Or would it reveal the sugar coated side of Latin American, African American/American, Asian history? That it was done for economic and expansion purposes for the betterment of the Americas, in other words, the own self interest of the privileged race. If anything, every other race is disconnected from the white race is almost every aspect of the American culture. Nothing about the white race makes them a minority. I could never consider white males a minority.
The article says, "You have this perception out there that whites are no longer in control or the majority. Whites are the new minority group." Whites are beginning to identity with the minority groups because they don't share privileges like they used to when they were the majority, and now that that status is threatened due to the recession, that is a problem. But they are still white, and still more privileged because of that fact. White statements such as:
"Like it or not, the country is going to look more like it should -- more brown folks, more yellow folks, more gay folks, more mixed folks," he says.
"This racial unease is more pronounced among older white Americans, who grew up in an era where America's icons were virtually all white, Wise says."
"The idea that we're losing our country is something that's not going to have a lot of resonance for someone under 30," Wise says. "These are white folks who don't remember the country that their parents are talking about."
"With white no longer the norm, more white Americans are hitting the books to ask a question that few felt a need to ask before: What does it mean to be white?"
I am only led to believe that white men feel the way that they do because of the position that the recession has put them in and how different groups are beginning recognize their potential. I wouldn't even call the group that feels oppressed our current generation but the past generations who are used to being the sole supremacist, like the quote above mentions. And now they feel threatened because America is slowly beginning to embrace other cultures, rather than identifying the norm. White is still what it is, white, but there are others in the world besides them.